Kilian Jornet comes to this year’s Hardrock 100 as the two-time defending champion and course-record holder in both directions. In the following interview, Kilian talks about why he made Hardrock one of his two running races this year, what his Hardrock preparation has looked like, and what may make this year a fast year at Hardrock.
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Kilian Jornet Pre-2016 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar with Kilian Jornet before the 2016 Hardrock 100. Hello, Kilian. How are you?
Kilian Jornet: Good actually. Nice to be back.
iRunFar: That’s probably my first question for you. This is your third time in a row at Hardrock. You’re signed up for two running races all year. What brings you back here?
Jornet: It’s a beautiful race. It’s a nice ambiance. I mostly like the ambiance of the race. I wanted to do a short race and a long race. In the long races, the ambiance is so special. The course, the philosophy behind the race—it makes it a race to do. It’s beautiful to come back.
iRunFar: This year’s field is probably the deepest men’s field ever. You at the front with Xavier Thévenard and Jason Schlarb, Timmy Olson—do you think you’ll have some people to run with early?
Jornet: Sure, it’s always hard to run 100 miles. It’s so long. Anything can happen. Of course this year the field is really exciting. Xavier Thévenard is someone who really prepares well the races. As we’ve seen at UTMB, the years he has been winning, he’s been preparing for a really long time. He really can focus on something and he prepares on that. Timmy Olson, the first year I ran, he was here. He had some problems in the last part, but he’s a really good runner at long distances. There are many others. I think 100 miles is always hard, but I think this year for sure it will be a fast race.
iRunFar: Speaking of fast races, at least watching from the outside it’s hard to tell because all of your workouts aren’t public, but it seems like you’re more prepared for this year’s race than your two previous runs at Hardrock.
Jornet: I don’t know. This year I haven’t run at all. I have run at Zegama. I did two runs before Zegama. After that it’s been climbing, climbing, climbing, and more preparing for Everest. I have been doing mountaineering a lot these weeks. I’ve been running five times pure running between Zegama and now.
iRunFar: Okay, you say you’ve been running five times, but one of them was a 20-hour run. What was your run up in…?
Jornet: It was mostly [Dale Garland says a brief greeting off camera]… I will say I did a 20- or 23-hour run, but it was mostly scrambling and climbing up to fourth-degree climbing and some running in between the summits. I have been doing long days. Last week I trained 56 hours, a lot of mountaineering and a lot of 12- to 14-hour days, but it’s not pure running. It’s more like you go with a heavy backpack and you are more like a 12 minutes/kilometer.
iRunFar: That sounds like perfect Hardrock training. One of the workouts you did last week was… Tom Owens says, “Kilian, have you ever run two Mont Blancs in one day?” Did you go out and do it the next day?
Jornet: Yeah, my plan last week was to be at altitude mostly to prepare for Everest. For sure it counts for here, too, but it was to do a lot of alpine workouts. We started with some great ski with Vivian [Bruchez]. The day after, I did some more technical climbing. Conditions were good, and I didn’t know what to do. Tom asked if I’d done Mont Blanc twice in a day, and it was the thing to do. It’s fun to try it.
iRunFar: So have you ever tried to do two Hardrocks in four days? [laughing]
Jornet: Don’t play that. We’re going to stop the games here. [laughing]
iRunFar: You obviously have done some long workouts. Whether or not it’s pure running, you’re fit right now. You have good fitness.
Jornet: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, the runs I have been doing I’ve been feeling well.
iRunFar: You hold the course record in both directions. What is your goal here? How do you set a goal?
Jornet: I don’t think I have many big goals on running now, but it’s nice to go back to races. It’s always good training to do races because you push yourself. It’s beautiful to do because of the ambiance and the competition. It’s nice to push and see all the people. Winning is good motivation to keep going fast, and it’s good when it’s high level for that to try to push harder.
iRunFar: It sounds like Mount Everest is your number-one or maybe only goal for the year?
Jornet: Yes, it’s a big thing. It means a lot of preparation. It means a lot of climbing before. Yeah, then it depends about conditions and about weather things. Yeah, it needs a lot of motivation to go there and go really fresh. That’s why this year I haven’t run that much after a big winter season with a lot of racing. I wanted to just prepare for that with more climbing and less traveling and going to races.
iRunFar: I heard some rumors during the spring that maybe if your preparation for Everest hadn’t gone as well as it has, you might not have run Hardrock?
Jornet: Yeah, the goal was to prepare well for Everest. Obviously to come here was perfect because it’s the altitude, too, and it’s a long run. It’s good, but the goal was to do Zegama and Hardrock, but of course if I felt I needed more alpine or more altitude, the biggest thing was to prepare that. Of course I come back here because it was a big thing.
iRunFar: This year, as you know, there’s a lot less snow here. It’s a fast direction. Does it make you excited to maybe try to go fast here?
Jornet: Yes, the year we did this direction there were a lot of big storms. We remember Adam [Campbell] on Handies. I think this year it’s a big competition, so we will probably run faster than other years. As I say, it’s 100 miles, so probably we will start faster, and then we will see how we can finish.
iRunFar: You’ve run Hardrock now twice, has your thoughts regarding logistics or preparing for this race changed at all?
Jornet: Yes, I think the more you run 100 miles, the less you care about logistics. The first time you run 100 miles, you prepare every aid station what you want and things. Then you realize with the aid stations in the race, it’s enough. You know the things. It’s much simpler. You don’t need to carry gels or anything. You just get food at the aid stations.
iRunFar: Any crew or pacers out there?
Jornet: Emelie [Forsberg], my girlfriend, is here. Yes, she will be probably following me during the race. If she feels good—because she’s coming back from an injury with her knee—maybe she will run with me some kilometers.
iRunFar: Are you planning on an enjoyable race?
Jornet: We always enjoy races. We have no problems.
iRunFar: You’re doing two races this year. One is Hardrock. The other was Zegama Marathon where there are 20,000 to 30,000 Basque fans out there cheering. Here there will be maybe 100. What’s the difference like going from Europe or some other races to coming to Hardrock?
Jornet: Yeah, that’s nice. I really like the ambiance here, I would say. It’s less aggressive toward the runners. It’s really nice to be out running these days. Today we were out running to Island Lake. I like to see some people that will be in the aid stations. Everybody says, “Hi,” in the trails. Last week we were on Mont Blanc and we crossed 1,000 persons going up and nobody says, “Hi,” because everybody is like that. It’s nice when you come here.
iRunFar: On the opposite side, if you and I were to meet for an interview at La Palma or Transvulcania, we’d have to be secret and meet somewhere outside of town because there would be 100 people lined up to take a picture or sign an autograph. Here, we can meet on Main Street.
Jornet: That’s a nice thing.
iRunFar: Does it make it more relaxed for you or more comfortable?
Jornet: Yes, sure. That was another thing this year. I am not really a social person, so I like this kind of ambiance. Also going to Everest, I wanted to be really fresh mentally. I know that going to big races takes a lot of mental energy for me, or races with a lot of people like to be in the Alps, it takes a lot of mental energy. That’s why the preparation I’ve been doing has been in more quiet places.
iRunFar: You probably won’t have to do 20 interviews like before UTMB or Transvulcania. You’ve kind of pared back your logistics, but what shoes will you be wearing?
Jornet: You will see on Friday. You saw something in Zegama, and it will be in that direction.
iRunFar: I’ll keep my eyes open for the 400 meters that I can see you.
Jornet: No, it will be more than that. He’s really fit this year. He will go faster. Maybe he will be the surprise of the race, eh?
iRunFar: The surprise of the race—we’ll see. Best of luck, Kilian.
Jornet: Thank you.